Impala Platinum Closes Its Largest Zimbabwe Mine Over Safety

Aug 20, 2014 11:22 am ET

(Updates with closing share price in second paragraph.)

Aug. 20 (Bloomberg) -- Impala Platinum Holdings Ltd., the world’s second-biggest producer of the metal, said it will close the largest mine of its Zimplats unit after safety conditions deteriorated since a collapse underground in July.

Impala will probably lose as many as 70,000 platinum ounces in the year through June 2015, or 4.4 percent of output in the 2013 fiscal period, through the closure of the Bimha mine, which is 150 kilometers (93 miles) southeast of the capital, Harare, the Johannesburg-based platinum producer said. The stock declined 4.5 percent, the most since Feb. 26, to 105.35 rand by the close in the city.

“Production from the other three mines is not expected to be affected,” the company said in an e-mailed statement. Fleets from Bimha have deployed at other assets “to mitigate production losses,” it said. Impala isn’t yet able to assess the outlook for Bimha, it said.

Zimbabwe has the world’s second-biggest platinum reserves. Its output has increasingly been seen as a partial replacement for metal from neighboring South Africa, which has the most reserves and where output plummeted because of a five-month strike by more than 70,000 mineworkers that ended in June.

South Africa produces more than two-thirds of the platinum extracted globally. Impala, Anglo American Platinum Ltd. and Lonmin Plc account for most of that output.